Google expands Assistant accessibility tools with new speech integration

The AI now works with Tobii Dynavox's Snap Core First software.

Tobii Dynavox / Google

One thing that makes voice-activated helpers like Google Assistant so powerful is that you don’t need to interact with a visual software interface to get the most out of its functionality. For those who have trouble seeing or don’t have fine motor control, the fact they can use their voice to communicate with Assistant means they can get just as much out of the software as anyone else. But not everyone can speak easily.

So to make Assistant even more accessible, Google is partnering with Tobii Dynavox. The company makes software and devices designed to help those with speech and language disabilities. Tobii Dynavox is integrating Assistant into its Snap Core First app. The software allows those with language impediments to communicate by interacting with a set of preconfigured tiles that they can activate by tapping or gazing at with their eye.

With the new integration, Snap Core First users can add tiles tied to Assistant actions, allowing them to access the same expansive set of functionality you can through your Assistant-enabled phone, smart speaker or smart display. That means they can use Assistant to control their smart home devices or media playback on a compatible speaker. They can also configure tiles for questions they want to ask Assistant frequently, such as “what’s the weather?”

Google is also updating Action Blocks, an accessibility tool that allows you to add big, easy-to-tap shortcuts to your Android phone’s home screen tied to customizable actions, to add icons from Tobii Dynavox’s Picture Communication Symbols library. That’s something that should make Action Blocks more approachable and easy to master to those who are already familiar with Tobii Dynavox’s software.

If you have a friend or family member who uses Snap Core First, Google says the setup process is straightforward. The main thing is to ensure is that they have a Google account and Snap Core First has access to Assistant in the Google Home app.